Have you mastered The Art of Professional Communication?

Beverly Unrath, NL Director of Business Development, heard a story from one of her friends in the industry. It shows that, when it comes to professional communication, something as simple as not returning a phone call can come back to haunt you later. She reports,

My friend first worked for a forwarder, where she hired law firms nationwide. Then her company was sold, and she lost her job. She got another job contacting law firms to offer services. She was stunned by how law firms that were so nice to her when she was the forwarder, now would not give her the time of day. Now she is working for a forwarder and hiring law firms again. Now, many of the firms that would not respond to her when she was a service provider are ‘banging on her door.’ She says it is very frustrating. She has learned this rule of thumb: ‘Always be prompt, courteous and professional in business communication, because you don’t know who could be a resource for you somewhere down the road.’”

Don’t ignore people

Are you guilty of ignoring calls from vendors from whom you might, at some point, want to get business? Bill Repp, President of Organization Development Group, said in a post in The Commercial Appeal,

Whatever the cause, not returning calls is unprofessional and rude. (I’m not talking about unsolicited telemarketing calls — just those made to check on the status of a problem or to ask a question.) When someone calls me, I think I owe them a return call that day.” He suggests that we develop and use a sample script for saying “no” during a difficult phone call.

Consider what’s appropriate for your method of communication.

We have so many ways to communicate now—some that we use professionally, some casually, and some for both. It’s easy to get into habits that are okay when we’re Tweeting or Texting or Emailing a friend, but they can get us into trouble when we’re sending a communication that needs to come across as professional, especially when we’re writing an email or using the telephone.

“One National List client wouldn’t hire a law firm because they used the common text abbreviation ‘Thx’ in an email,” adds Beverly

Learn what constitutes a professional email.

Because so much of our communication these days is via email, we recommend that you check out the website http://www.netmanners.com/ and their helpful list of 101 Email Etiquette Tips. A few of the tips that hit home for me include:

  1. Spell check – emails with typos are simply not taken as seriously.
  2. Refrain from getting too informal too soon in your email communications.
  3. If your email is emotionally charged, walk away from the computer and wait to reply.
  4. Keep emails brief and to the point. Save long conversations for the telephone.
  5. When communicating about sensitive topics, consider calling the other party on the phone.
  6. Think of a business email as though it was on letterhead, and you’ll never go wrong!

A reputation for professional communication can get you hired.

For Debt Collection Professionals, in addition to considering all of the rules and regulations relating to privacy in the industry, an individual’s image as a professional is getting more and more difficult to project. At the National List, it’s our job to refer lawyers to new business. Prompt and professional communication is near the top of the list on client considerations.

Use all of your communication to build relationships.

Regardless of your method of communication, “Never Burn a Bridge!” is something to remember in any business situation. The importance of relationship building applies to those you provide services for, as well as to those who want your business.

We invite you to share some of your pet peeves, when it comes to business communication. Enter a comment to be included in our next blog on this important topic.

by Nancy Lender

Categories: Business Relationships, NL Insider

Tags: , , ,

5 replies

  1. So true, you never know what tomorrow will bring, or where people you don’t have time for today will end up tomorrow.

  2. Great article and very informative read. I did a seminar for the mid-year IACC meeting a couple of years ago about the effective use of e-mail when communicating and many of the points I made then, are mentioned here, as well as a number of points I hadn’t thought of. I grew up in NL’s hometown and my grandfather taught me the same principle. “Never burn a bridge, you never know when you’re going to need it”, he would always tell me.

  3. Your grandfather is a wise man, Chad. He taught you well! Thank you for your valuable feedback. I’m looking forward to seeing you Baltimore, MD soon.

  4. Thank you so much for this great article reminding us of how our attorney professionalism is noticed by clients and others. Per your permission today, I am using your article in the Ethics seminars that I give to attorneys and especially new attorneys reminding them of these considerations and especially the return of all telephone calls and messages.


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